Like the blues he loved, Richard D. Johnson, 67, lived a storied life of riffs and beats that got your feet tapping. Rick passed away December 17, 2014, after a long bout with cancer, but not before leaving an indelible impression.
A native of Billings, Montana, and son of Howard and Mary Johnson, Rick graduated from Billings Central Catholic High School and ultimately matriculated to Fort Collins, where he served as a dedicated and creative professor of finance at Colorado State University for 29 years.
During the first “bluesy stanza” of his adult life, Rick attended the University of Portland, where he met his future wife Janet (McBride) and played rhythm guitar in the Seagram Six band. When Jan transferred to UC Santa Barbara, Rick followed, completing his undergraduate degree at Long Beach State University. Wanting to stay close to the music scene while attending LBSU, Rick worked as a bouncer at a club where he met Alice Cooper and his snake.
After marrying Jan in 1970, he worked for Security Pacific Bank, which inspired the second “stanza” of his life. Rick and Jan relocated to Eugene, where Rick obtained a masters and doctorate in finance and a life-long passion for the University of Oregon Ducks.
Colorado State University became the bridge of his life’s song. At CSU’s Department of Finance in the College of Business, Rick served as department chair, co-authored two textbooks, and became a mentor to the CSU students he loved and nurtured.
During the last stanza of his life, Rick became an avid blues player and rhythm guitarist for Fort Collins’ Vintage Winds, studied Zen Buddhism, counseled troubled prisoners, and volunteered at the Poudre Valley Hospital Cancer Center, where he supported others with cancer. Rick also served as the investment committee chair of the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado.
A loving son, brother, and husband, Rick transformed challenges in his life and those of others into a 30-minute angst-ridding, belly-laugh-inducing stand-up routine. He loved nature and the great outdoors, devoted hours to tying his own flies, read the water like a book, and practiced the art and science of fly fishing to the extent that he always left a day of fishing with a catch.
He is survived by his wife, Jan; sister Mary Ann Bradley and her husband Tim, nephew Timmer Bradley, niece Sarah Bradley; sister-in-law Jane Greco and her husband James, nephews Brian and Matt Greco and their wives, Jenny and Ashley, respectively; and his beloved Lakeland terrier, Maddie. The family wishes to express its heartfelt gratitude for the loving care provided by his oncologist, Dr. Ann Stroh, her team, and the Poudre Valley Hospital Oncology and Out-Patient Infusion units.
Memorial services will be conducted at Allnutt Funeral Service in Fort Collins at a future date. In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be directed to the Rick Johnson Music Education Fund, c/o Community Foundation of Northern Colorado, 4745 Wheaton Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80525, or to the Cancer Center of the Poudre Valley Hospital & Medical Center Foundation, at www.pvhandmcr.thankyou4caring. org.
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